Skills for Growth

The Skills for Growth programme has been designed to fill occupational skills gaps identified from employers, who have continually highlighted that they cannot find the technical skills in Greater Manchester required to support and grow their businesses.

Specific provision is therefore needed that is flexible enough to respond. To respond to this Greater Manchester has secured approximately £40m million pounds of the European Social Fund to deliver Skills for Growth from 2020.

The aim of this three-year programme is to put Greater Manchester in a unique position to build a truly collaborative programme that shapes skills delivery and responds to the skills needs that emerge throughout the course of the programme. The programme will support more than 25,000 individuals and over 3,000 businesses over its duration.

The Skills for Growth programme activities will align with general strategic Greater Manchester priorities around supporting business growth and delivering an integrated approach to employment and skills. In addition, it will support providers of education, employment and training to better meet the needs of residents and employers through the creation of new partnerships and innovative methods of delivery.

The programme will:

  • Work with a range of employers across the city-region meaning employed people will be supported to increase their skills levels enabling career progression and movement within the labour market
  • Work with employers to design and deliver a range of Level 3 and above qualifications, responsive to the skills needs of Greater Manchester businesses and sectors. Support will be provided for technical and advanced skills in businesses and sectors, which will drive productivity and future economic growth
  • Deliver targeted activity to support priority groups in particular, Greater Manchester’s ageing population, low paid, and women in employment to increase their skills levels. Employers will support employees to access training and development opportunities to meet their business needs and / or career aspirations and progress through the labour market
  • Work with a range of employers including SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and micro-businesses, ensuring the employment and skills system is meeting the current skills needs of our businesses. This will ensure we can continue to deliver a talent pipeline of skilled people, responsive to the future needs of our businesses
  • Identify foundational and frontier sectors in the city-region’s Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) as areas of growth will be key priorities for this programme

How the programme will work

There are four key components to Skills for Growth, which will form a constant loop throughout the three-year programme:

  • Developing the skills system
  • Gathering intelligence from business
  • Supporting individuals
  • Delivering learning

Greater Manchester’s strategic priorities are the drivers for the programme, specifically our Local Industrial Strategy and Greater Manchester strategy priorities. Real time intelligence from Greater Manchester businesses will be gathered that then feeds skills delivery and progression, which results in individual and business growth.

The Growth Company have been delivering SME Support from October 2020. For more details, please visit their website (opens in new tab).

The skills delivery is expected to be commissioned in early 2021.

Labour Market and Skills Intelligence

In 2020, a newly established Skills Intelligence team was formed at GMCA to play a key role in informing and developing the commissioned provision that will form a large part of the Skills for Growth programme.

By gathering intelligence around skills gaps and hard to fill vacancies in both large and small employers (supported by the SME provider – the Growth Company) and matching this against existing skills provision across the city-region, the programme will be able to highlight gaps in our current skills landscape then work to resolve these through commissioning delivery.

Throughout all employer interaction, engaging them in the wider skills and employment landscape through signposting to existing provision such as Adult Education Budget (AEB), and initiatives such as the Good Employment Charter and Bridge GM will ensure a more effective and joined up skills and employment system, with clear progression pathways from education into high quality employment opportunities.

The labour market and skills intelligence function will be used to inform highly relevant commissioning of skills delivery through a procured framework of approved training organisations. The programme will be iterative in its delivery, in that a constant feedback loop will be created to inform next steps on the programme as the Intelligence emerges.

Skills for growth and Covid-19

Skills provision is critical to Greater Manchester’s recovery from Covid-19. This programme provides an opportunity to support businesses as they rapidly develop and innovate to maintain and create economic activity and jobs, with a focus on increased productivity through developing the skills of their workforce. The foundational and frontier growth sectors identified in our Prosperity Review and Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) will also be key priorities for this programme.

Supporting businesses to understand their workforce needs, how reskilling individuals can support growth and productivity of our economy and exploring models that allow for redeployment is crucial. This support will be critical to our economic recovery and addressing the skills needs that emerge from the economic shock, whilst still having the ability to deliver on the growth ambitions identified prior to the pandemic, and assisting Greater Manchester’s economy to build back better.

Industry labour market and skills intelligence reports

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We will keep the Skills for Growth webpage updated as the programme develops. For more information, or to be added to the Skills for Growth Mailing List, please contact

This project receives funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.

The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme.

Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information, visit the GOV website (link opens in new tab).